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Medium Ideas are aimed at congregations who are looking to expand their service within their local school. Many of these ideas require regular commitment from the congregation and are ideal for people with more time on their hands.


Invite a school to use your church as a concert venue

Many schools have large and thriving music departments with all kinds of groups and ensembles for pupils to participate in.  In one school, this began to cause difficulties as there was no space large enough to accommodate all the pupils involved in the school concert as well as all the parents, family and friends who wanted to attend. 

A local church saw this need and, as they had a larger auditorium which would be ideal for the concert, they offered to let the school use their building free of charge.  This had huge benefits for the school in allowing them the space they needed for all the groups to take part in the concert and to accommodate the audience. 

It also helped in building relationships between the church and the school and allowed the church to bless the school and the local community.  Members of the church were there during the concert to help with stewarding and they also worked with the school to help provide refreshments at the interval.  This gave opportunities for conversations between members of the church and members of the school community.

How could you start this yourself?

  • If you have a large church building that might be suitable, and you think this is something that might benefit the school, chat to your church leader(s) to gain approval for the idea.
  • Then, contact the head teacher and make the offer to discuss the possibility of using the church for a concert.
  • If the plan goes ahead, you will need to organise time before the concert for the pupils to rehearse in the church and get used to the venue.
  • You will need to find people in the church who could help on the night by stewarding, manning fire exits or helping with refreshments.

Great ways to serve your school in 2016

There are many ways for Scottish churches to engage with their community and local schools. If you need inspiration for 2016, why not try some of the top ideas offered in 2015?

A great way to get stuck in is getting involved in or setting up an SU Group, aimed at creating a safe place where every pupil is welcomed and respected and where Christian values are modelled.

Alternatively, you can be part of an after school club. There are plenty opportunities such as a sports club or a drama club.

But it is not just the children and young people we can engage with, it is the whole school community. So why not, at the end of another academic year, say thank you with a lovely meal. On the topic of food, how about encouraging a healthy life style by means of a breakfast club encouraging the community to start the day healthy.

Last but certainly not least, we can pray for a school, on our own or as part of a prayer group.  So far over 50% of Scottish schools are registered as prayed for.  We would love to see that number go up in 2016!

For more information on working with a school, go to our Get Started section


Running an after-school drama club

Drama is an excellent medium for engaging young people in thinking about big ideas. At its heart, drama is about telling stories, and through participation children grow in confidence, gain skills in presentation and learn how to use their bodies and voices. It also promotes trust, collaboration and listening skills.

Fiona Stewart, Foolproof Creative Arts, explains how to start, plan and run an after school drama club. In this article, the focus lies on running your club.

You’ve chosen your script, planned your programme and set a date for your final performance, and now it’s time to actually make it work. Here are some tips:

  • Pray as a team. Even though the content and purpose of the group may not be overtly Christian, it’s important to approach the club with the same attitude as an SU group or similar. Pray for the children as you get to know them.
  • Establish a routine for the club - make sure you leave time for arriving, catching up on the week’s news, going to the toilet, eating snacks etc. We encourage children to take off their shoes as it frees them physically and allows them to be more imaginative.Make sure you include some physical, vocal and imaginative warm-up exercises (there are plenty of resources available to help you find exercises for this). Try Drama Games for Classrooms and Workshops or 100+ Ideas for Drama for starters.
  • Keep the programme fast-paced and fun. Use a mixture of all together, group and paired work to keep children engaged. Set out your expectations early on and try and create an atmosphere where children can be boisterous and imaginative within a safe, controlled environment.
  • Put together a box of props and costumes that you can use. This feeds the imagination and helps the young people build characters.
  • Using music can significantly improve a mediocre performance - a little background music, or to cover scene changes and create mood. Also music is great for getting children moving.
  • Introduce terms such as ‘rehearsal’, ‘warm-up’, ‘director’, ‘stage-right’, ‘stage-left’ etc. early on as basic stagecraft is also part of the learning process, and adds to the sense of putting on a proper production.
  • Encourage the children to critique one another kindly and constructively. This encourages those who are ‘just watching’ to be more engaged. We usually ask two questions - what did you think was really good about the performance and can you suggest anything that would improve it?
  • The two basic rules of performance are don’t turn your back to the audience and speak loudly. You will have to reinforce this time and again.

Planning an after-school drama club

Drama is an excellent medium for engaging young people in thinking about big ideas. At its heart, drama is about telling stories, and through participation children grow in confidence, gain skills in presentation and learn how to use their bodies and voices. It also promotes trust, collaboration and listening skills.

Fiona Stewart, Foolproof Creative Arts, explains how to start, plan and run an after school drama club. In this article, the focus lies on planning your club.

Once you’ve got your team together, had permission from the school to start a drama club and have done some advertising to the potential members, it’s time to get started! So, how do you do that?

  • Decide what you’re going to work on for the term - will you use a script? Write your own? Adapt a story? Familiar stories are often best. You might want to gather ideas from the group, talking about the stories (films, books, TV programmes) that they like. 
  •  If you’re using a script, think about the reading stage of the children in the group. Reading a script is a different skill from reading aloud in class and you may need to find imaginative ways of telling the whole story before you plunge into a first read. Remember that some scripts may not be available for performance or use (e.g. anything currently being performed professionally, many Disney-owned stories). There are lots of scripts available through websites such as Treepress and Lazybees, and we often recommend buying a copy of Julia Donaldson’s Playtime which is written to help young readers. 
  •  If you’re going to devise your own script from a story then there are some resources that will help you do this. Drama Games for Devising by Jessica Swale is a good starting point. 
  • If you choose to dramatize a Bible story remember that many children will not be familiar with the passage. It’s a good opportunity to let them explore the passage for themselves and find its meaning. 
  • Working back from the performance date (probably the last session of the term), put together a realistic programme of what you’ll do each week. Make sure you include some physical, vocal and imaginative warm-up exercises. Try Drama Games for Classrooms and Workshops or 100+ Ideas for Drama for starters. 
  • Enjoy showing friends and family what you have worked on - think about whether you could get some other Christians to organise the ‘audience’ side of the performance by mingling with the families, serving refreshments and hosting well. 

Next week, Fiona will explain how to run an after school drama club.


Starting an after-school drama club

Drama is an excellent medium for engaging young people in thinking about big ideas. At its heart, drama is about telling stories. Through participation children grow in confidence, gain skills in presentation and learn how to use their bodies and voices. It also promotes trust, collaboration and listening skills.

Across three articles, Fiona Stewart, Foolproof Creative Arts, explains how to start, plan and run an after-school drama club. Below the first part which highlights what to keep in mind before starting a drama club.

If you have people in your church who are dramatic, enthusiastic as well as confident in working with children, an after-school or lunchtime drama club is a great resource to offer your local primary school.

  • Before you approach your local head teacher make sure you are confident of what you are offering. You can consider something that has a Christian core, using Bible stories or seasonal material. Alternatively, you may opt for something that is not overtly Christian. In our experience a school is likely to be more comfortable with the idea of non-religious themed drama in the first instance.
  • Make sure you are clear on your Child Protection Policy and that your volunteers are PVG checked.
  • Think about the age group you want to work with. We tend to work with P4 and above, but even within a P4-7 range there is a vast difference in ability and confidence.
  • Many people’s idea of drama is a grand performance of a complex script, and most children will come with high expectations of creating a show stopping production in a matter of weeks! Be realistic about what you, and they, can achieve with limited time and resources.
  • Remember that not all children are skilled readers, and many will prefer to create their own dramas from a story stimulus. By using games and storytelling exercises you can create a club that is fun to attend and produces something decent for parents and others to watch at the end of term.
  • Plan back from the end of term. If you decide to put on a performance for parents gather some people who can help you with welcome, refreshments and chatting to the audience.

Next week, Fiona will explain how to plan an after school drama club.


School managment 'Thank You' meal

Organising a meal for your school’s Management Team is a great way to grow a relationship between the school and your church. It’s wonderful to be able to say thank you to staff for serving the students, and for your church members who know some staff in the school to have a conversation which is more than just “hi, thanks, bye”.

Your church may be able to host the meal within your own buildings – but do make an effort to make the surroundings as warm & as pleasing as you can; (wobbly stacking-chairs set up beside Formica tables in a cold dingy church hall does not feel like much of a ‘treat’). Run the event in partnership with another church that may have a more suitable venue, or consider hiring a local room.

Many churches have knockout catering teams and with some good organisation could produce a delightful three (or more!) course meal. Additional (or nicer) crockery, cutlery and glass can be hired cheaply, or you can bring in external caterers who will do everything for you.

The meal could be followed by an after-dinner speaker, but we’d advise against using this as an opportunity to ‘preach’ to an audience you’ve managed to trap in your church! Try to find someone who is a gifted natural speaker and has a relevant link to education. Fifteen minutes for a talk will be plenty.

Additionally, it would be beneficial if resources are available for the management team to browse through and borrow; or you use it as an opportunity to offer a new service/course for pupils for the next academic year; or perhaps you have managed to source some funding for a specific need in the school (e.g. RME book resources)

How could you start this yourself?

  • Ask the Senior Management Team if they would feel comfortable coming to the Church for a meal.
  • Provide a menu in advance so they can order their meal. Have a copy of their individual menu, on the table, on the night in case they have forgotten what they ordered.
  • Think carefully about your after dinner speaker and provide them with clear guidelines on subject matter and timing.
  • Work out your seating plan – who already knows who?

Start an SU Group


Many schools across Scotland have groups that meet over lunchtime or after school which look at exploring the Christian Faith. SU Scotland runs over 450 of these “SU Groups” in both Primary and Secondary schools across the country. Each group is different but they all aim to create a safe place where every pupil (of any faith or none) is welcomed and respected; a place where Christian values are modelled.

The groups offer young people the chance to ask questions about the Christian faith, bring friends, share ideas and enjoy time together. Through storytelling, open discussions, encouraging questions and exploring the Bible pupils are invited to discover where faith can play a part in individual lives and the community.

Some groups gather and pupils bring their lunch to eat together, before moving on to some fun activities; some last 15-20mins, whilst others are an hour at the end of the school day. Groups are led by school staff, senior pupils, parents or other church volunteers or youth workers - anyone in whom the school and SU Scotland have confidence. It’s a weekly commitment involving a bit of preparation and a lunch hour (or a different time slot after school) in your local school.

How could you start this yourself?


Sports Coaching

If you are looking for opportunities to serve your local school and you enjoy sports, it is possible to combine the two. Most schools have football or other sports teams which often need volunteers, either to run them or to help out. In addition, most schools would be open to new clubs if you are able to set up a sports club the school does not offer. 

Where to start?      

  • Firstly, contact the school and find out what sports
    clubs they already have and when they take place.
  • Secondly, work out what you are able to offer the school, whether you can support an existing group or organising a new one.
  • What time are you able to commit and for how long? If you are starting something new or restarting a club, you will need to agree with the school when the activities will take place, what age group it is for and how long each session will last.
  • Work with others in your church to ensure you are linking up with other relationships that there may be with the school. It is likely you will need to get someone else to help you, either from the school or the church.
  • Contact the headteacher to meet up so you can talk through what you can offer.
  • You will need to plan your coaching sessions making sure they are engaging and fun.
    You might want to consider some basic coaching training for the sport you wish to coach. For example, football, rugby union or a variety of other sports.

Musicians in schools

A local musician, supported by his church, offered himself to a secondary school to be used in “any way they wished”. He began by putting on a small lunchtime concert every Thursday in the concourse / social-area of the school, and encouraged participation from other musical students. The response was excellent, and over time, staff consistently commented on the benefits saying “the atmosphere is better when you are in here”.

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Breakfast Club / Supporting Healthy Eating

A breakfast club is an excellent way of serving a whole school community. One example of this working well began in a secondary school which already enjoyed a positive relationship local youth-workers and chaplains. As part of regular meetings with senior management they were discussing the needs of pupils. One issue they felt they could commit to helping with was the number of young people coming to school early. They usually came without breakfast and by the time classes started were bored, hungry and unsettled.

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Running an after school club in a church

It can sometimes be difficult to bridge the gap between school youth work and church based youth work. You often meet young people in school for the first time and it is a great opportunity to build trust and get to know them, but it is out of the school environment where support is often required. After school clubs in churches do not have to be Bible studies. Nor do they have to clubs where God is last (or never) on the agenda. 

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Golden Time Clubs

Golden Time is run by many schools as a special time at the end of the week for pupils to engage in a different learning activity. It is often a reward for good behaviour, and can be limited if behaviour has been poor.  Schools like to provide a range of options, and what you might offer is only limited by your skills and imagination. Examples include: knitting, sketching, dance, Bible story-telling club, model making, athletics, baking, sign-language, growing vegetables, film making, chess, face-painting.

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Story Sacks/Topic Boxes 

Story Sacks focus on telling one particular Bible story through a wide variety of methods. They comprise of at least two story or picture books, props and/or dressing up clothes to act it out, colouring pages and worksheets, pictures, games, toys, and perhaps even a puppet. They also contain a Teachers Folder which gives details of items in the sack and ideas of how each can be used.

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Run a fair trade group

Schools can apply for fair-trade status (there are now over 800 Fairtrade Schools in the UK). This is something a church is well placed to support – not least because many churches feel strongly about social justice and the importance of fair trade. In order to become a fair trade school, the school needs to set up a fair trade group, write a fair trade policy, use and promote  fair trade products, learn about fair trade and run fair trade events throughout the year. The Fairtrade Foundation website  has a lot of helpful information.

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Join a FAST (Families and Schools Together) group

FAST (Families and Schools Together) is a research based initiative funded by Save the Children. FAST groups encourages school staff, parents and community members to work together to build the link between the school and the local community, while also strengthening links within a family unit.

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Supported Study Groups

In secondary schools extra tuition is offered after school by teachers in the form of Supported Study Groups; especially as exams get nearer! At the end of a busy teaching day members of staff are often pleased to have someone who can circulate as the pupils work, offering advice and direction. In subjects such as Art additional help can be provided as an extra pair of hands to help with framing finished pictures.  Sometimes volunteers have been invited to go on trips with the department they have helped too.

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‘School Run’ initiative 

Exercise of any kind might physically be demanding but usually leaves participants feeling more confident, refreshed and motivated. The ‘School Run’ programme encourages children and adults to take exercise in the form of a run before the school day starts. It sets out personal targets for the individual and helps them to focus positively on improving their fitness.

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Primary 6/7 Mentoring Groups

A mentoring programme that targets P6 pupils can be established using the YMCA Scotland’s Achieve Your Potential resource. This kind of project has supports many young people who benefited from having their own mentor. It can help them with the transition to secondary school and prepares them for their big move. The mentors are all volunteers from the local church. Although not a requirement, good volunteers are retired people bringing with them many years of life experience.

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Open the Book

Open the Book offers a structured programme of themed and dramatised Bible stories that fits comfortably into primary assemblies.  Volunteers use drama, mime, costume and props (and possibly staff and pupils) to tell stories in a way that is lively, engaging and informative,  initially from the “Lion Storyteller Bible.” This is “topped and tailed” by comments and a prayer from the Open the Book materials. A Headteacher may request a time of reflection instead of a prayer, which should be observed. It could also be used in an RME lesson.

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Cosy Cafe in School

Cosy Cafe is a Fairtrade drop-in cafe that is set up in a school classroom during lunchtime once a week.  It is a relaxed and safe space amidst the busyness of a school day, where pupils can sit and chat, play games, eat their lunch, buy Fairtrade products and drink hot chocolate.  It provides an opportunity for members of the local churches to support the school and build relationships with pupils in a comfortable setting.  Also, if there is currently a Fairtrade group within the school it provides a link and supports them.

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